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On Sunday, 26 July 1998, at about 1324 EST, a Cessna A185E floatplane, VH-HTS, crashed onto a ridge forming the southern shore of Calabash Bay NSW. The accident occurred during a go-around manoeuvre following an unsuccessful landing approach to the Berowra water alighting area. At the time of the accident the Calabash Bay area was affected by strong winds, widespread rain and showers, low cloud, and reduced visibility. The aircraft was operated by South Pacific Seaplanes and was undertaking a charter flight from Palm Beach to Berowra. All five occupants, including the pilot, suffered fatal injuries. The aircraft was destroyed by impact forces.

The investigation found that the circumstances of the accident were consistent with uncontrolled flight into terrain. The decision by the pilot to carry out a go-around into a confined area surrounded by steep-sided terrain was the culminating factor in a combination of local factors, organisational deficiencies and inadequate safety defences. Local factors included poor weather conditions, a lack of formal procedures to provide safe methods of operation, and commercial pressures. Organisational deficiencies were identified within South Pacific Seaplanes concerning the management and conduct of charter operations carried out by that company, and in the safety regulation of those operations by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

During the investigation a number of safety deficiencies were identified. Safety actions to address those deficiencies are currently being formulated by the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation. A description of those deficiencies, and corresponding safety actions, will be summarised in section 4 of the final report.

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[ Download PDF: 977KB]
General details
Date: 26 July 1998 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1325 hours EST  
Location   (show map):Calabash Bay Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: New South Wales Occurrence type: Loss of control 
Release date: 25 February 1999 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Fatal 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Cessna Aircraft Company 
Aircraft model: 185 
Aircraft registration: VH-HTS 
Serial number: 18501835 
Type of operation: Charter 
Damage to aircraft: Nil 
Departure point:Palm Beach, NSW
Departure time:1309 hours EST
Destination:Berowra Waters, NSW
Crew details
RoleClass of licenceHours on typeHours total
Fatal: 1405
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Last update 13 May 2014